Friday, October 02, 2009

Expert skills; just physical?

Sorry for the lack of posts. Life gets busy and it seems blogging gets pushed aside. I feel sort out of touch with you all. It will be good to sit down and see what you have been up to on your blogs. In the meantime, I just wanted to put up a quick note. Sort of a preview, so to speak.

In what little free time there seems to be, I've been concentrating on this photography thing. I've found a few books that deal with digital photography. Maybe I'm just primed for something new but I'm finding myself really drawn into this thing. Blame
Steve Williams. There's something about his photographs that are more than just a picture of a moment. In a small way I've been trying to emulate that. I find myself looking at things in a different way. Exposure is kind of a tricky thing, yet makes such a huge difference.

For a few nights I've been doing some night time security work at a volunteer construction site. A new church is being built. Since I get by on little sleep, I've volunteered to hang out from 3 AM to 7 AM. With a laptop I can actually get some work done. It works out well since the factories I deal with are on the East coast, three hours ahead of us. Rounds have been made with the Nikon and a tripod along. I've had the chance to play with some stuff. Just for fun I'm including a few pictures. Nothing spectacular, just new ways of looking at ordinary things during the early morning hours under the parking lot lights. The photos have nothing to do with the post subject. Consider them farkles.

Meals are served to the volunteer workers. Here's some bananas waiting to be introduced to some hungry workers.

Anyway, to the point. I've written quite a bit about skills. You may remember me writing things like this:

Your skills will only stay sharp to whatever level you hone them to.

We don't rise to the occasion, we default to our level of training.

And here's one I'm adding:

Amateurs train until they get the drill right; professionals train until they can't get it wrong.

Most of the time we associate these principles with physical skills. Of course, a rider really needs physical skills to be at the highest level possible. There's more to riding a bike than just getting on and twisting the throttle, though. Consider our definition of an expert rider:

An expert rider is one who uses expert judgement to avoid using expert physical skills.

So while a rider should strive for expert physical skills, developing expert mental skills is even more critical.

A couple of weeks or so ago, there was a huge crash on Interstate 5 in Oregon involving 26 motorcycles. One of the rescue personnel described the bikes as "falling like dominoes". Despite some critical injuries, there were no fatalities that I am aware of. The incident bears looking at to see what we can learn from it. Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,



bobskoot said...


While you are learning from STEVE, you are following in Mr Conchscooter's footsteps by walking around at night with a tripod (or GorillaPod). I would imagine that you have also resorted to talking to yourself too.
Excellent that you are striving for perfection in whatever you do, whether riding or photographing.
I don't know how you can function with such little sleep, I'm trying to do the opposite

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Mike Simmons said...

Good analogy of riding and photography skills. It is interesting that when one becomes more conscious of photography things begin to look different.

I think there's a lesson on life there.


Balisada said...

From the news article, it almost sounds like they were following the motorcycle in front of them and not looking very far ahead of them.

The men, were in a group of about 26 motorcycles headed north on Interstate 5 south of Wilsonville, in a column formation in the left lane. Traffic came to a stop. The two lead bikes were able to avoid an SUV in front, but the remainder of the group crashed either into that vehicle or into each other, police said.

Of course, they may have been paying attention, but since they were in a column formation, (which suggests that they were not in a staggered formation like what we are taught in Basic Rider Training, or riding too close in a staggered formation) they might not have had anywhere to go, when the time came to use those swerving skills we learned in ART class.


Anonymous said...

So did you receive the D40 disc?
And assume you're learning. Interesting comment about East coast versa West coast and the time difference.

I deal frequently with publishers in the UK, five hours ahead of me &
then going the other way, editors in
Perth Australia. Have to keep these in perspective, it can be confusing!

I can see you praying on guard duty wishing the night would be over sooner than later. Remind me not to ask you questions until you've had your morning Starbucks.

irondad said...

What's wrong with talking to yourself? That is, if you like listening to an intelligent man speak, and speaking to an intelligent man!

What's with comparing me to Conch? I thought you liked me! :)

I think photography helps us see more of the beauty and good in our everyday lives.

I did receive the disc. Thank you very much. The more I look the more I see how diverse the camera is!

Weirdly enough, I'm not grouchy before coffee.

Take care,


irondad said...

You are closing in on part of the point about using mental skills. Nice preview!

By the way, I'm on your turf this weekend. Taught classroom last night and will be terrorizing the parking lot tomorrow and Sunday.

Saw your bike on campus yesterday afternoon.

Take care,


Young Dai said...

Is that the Brother Speed crash ?

Wandered onto their web-page coincidentially this week. I don't know how 'bad-ass' they are beind the posturing, but they do affect the look of type of folks you would have taken a professional interest in, back in the day.

Perhaps too much blood in their alcohol as well as a contributing factor ? Two with serious head injuries so I assume not many helmets in evidence on the ride either

Steve Williams said...

I suppose there are worse things to take blame for. Seriously though it is humbling to think that anything I've done has an affect on others.

Photography is an odd thing. On the surface it's a pretty mechanical process but if you practice, practice in the manner you equate with riding, something happens. Your perception shifts and you lose time making pictures.

It's been apparent for awhile now that your pictures have changed.

Good luck on the journey!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Charlie6 said...

Irondad, I think you're getting the hang of photography just fine! I like the shot of the bananas in particular, good use of the lighting...

Chuck Pefley said...

I'm having a hard time imagining how 26 motorcycles could all end up in a pile on the highway. Obviously, they did, but ... based on "my" group riding experience that would be pretty hard to accomplish. Increased speed, for me, anyway, automatically means increased distance. Group riding, again, for me, always means more attention to what's going on in all four quadrants. Shaking my head while wishing them well.

I also like your banana image -:)


Conchscooter said...

You could worse you know. To quote the late John Lennon: I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people." Who would have thought I'd have anything at all in common with that hippie? He never even tried working for the government.
For my taste I'd rather be the guy standing in the square facing the tank, than parked alongside the tank failing to find the nerve to run him down.
Don't be afraid Irondad, scratching the motorcycle is just part of the ride.

Krysta in MKE said...

"What's wrong with talking to yourself?"
As long as you don't lose arguments, not a thing.

I looked up a couple news reports on that crash... On the surface, it looks like too many people too close together, not paying attention to what's happening up ahead.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Irondad:

Make no apologies for gettig lost in oneself instead of going in circles on a keyboard.

I am always amazed why there aren't more accidents envolving these vast formation rides. The late safety guru, Larry Grotsky, who was taken out by a deer (at night in Texas), made a strong case for riding in single file, separated by a substantial distance, as opposed to even the staggered formation riding.

His argument makes a lot of sense (to me, at least). I like the option of having more escape routes open to me, as well as other options, without having to concentrate on my position (where mere feet or inches count), for hours on end.

Plus, I firmly believe the optimum number of people in a ride is three. Four works, in two groups of two.

I was slightly put off by the picture of bananas. I am already working for peanuts. I don't want my clients to think other kinds of produce would be equally acceptible.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Balisada said...

I would just like to say that I believe that it is perfectly okay to talk to yourself, as long as you don't have to repeat yourself because you didn't catch what you said the first time!


Dean W said...

Balisada- I heard what I said, I just chose to ignore ithe first time...

Young Dai said...

I have just seen a remark on another site : "police are now focusing on the actions of a beat-up pick-up truck driven by a Cowboy with an ugly looking child in a ginger coat as passenger"!!!

Well it made me laugh

bobskoot said...


Until this year, I have mainly been doing group rides but you are right about the proximity of bikes around you and how much more alert you must be. I am finding that less is better. On our last ride to Port Renfrew with Chuck and Ian there were just the 3 of us. We staggered ourselves so that we were riding up to a block behind each other. So you are riding solo within a group and make your own decisions as to speed, cornering angles and lane selection. I found it best not to crowd the rider ahead of me and just backed off on the throttle to keep a sane distance.
Of course we also abide by the "15 minute rule"

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Dean W said...

Late follow-up: One of the riders involved in the large multi-bike collision a few weeks ago, died last week.